Reps To Probe Alleged Mishandling Of N183.9bn COVID-19 Intervention Funds

The House of Representatives has instructed the Committee on Public Account to investigate allegations of mishandling COVID-19 intervention funds.

This directive follows a motion presented on Tuesday during plenary by Nyampa Zakari, a PDP member from Adamawa State. Zakari asserted that various ministries and organizations misappropriated the COVID-19 intervention funds allocated in the federal budget, amounting to over N183.9 billion, which also included contributions from international donors.

“The disruption of economic activity made it necessary to implement several programmes, laws, and interventions to help families, small enterprises, and public corporations and to strengthen their economies.

“To battle the COVID-19 pandemic on the populace, the Federal Government of Nigeria launched several initiatives, including financial provisions and money from international donor organisations.

“A sum of N83.9 billion was appropriated for the COVID-19 response in the 2020 Appropriation Act, as well as another sum of over N100 billion as intervention funds through the supplementary budget and international donor agencies,” the lawmaker added.

The alleged mishandling, according to Mr. Zakari, was detailed in one of the Auditor General’s reports.

He said that the poor handling would discourage future donations to Nigeria from donor organisations.

“Auditor-General’s report and other sources reveal that significant funds for COVID-19 palliatives and international donations were diverted and unaccounted for by various Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government.

“Lack of proper accountability of funds allocated for COVID-19 intervention by the federal government and global donor agencies could potentially lead to negative economic ratings and loss of opportunities for Nigeria,” he said.

Speaking on the motion, Borno APC member Ahmed Jaha stated that the probe was essential because the House has already been charged with receiving benefits from the COVID-19 intervention money.

Imagine how many schools would have been built if each constituency received N500 million, Mr. Jaha said.

As a result, the House instructed the committee to look into the COVID-19 intervention funds distributed to federal ministries, departments, and agencies between 2020 and 2022 and provide a report within four weeks for additional legislative action.

After being placed to a vote by Speaker Abbas Tajudeen, the resolution was adopted by the House by a unanimous vote.